A Beginner's Guide to Human Design
While self-quarantining in 2020, I went pretty deep into psychics, tarot, reiki, and of course, astrology to figure myself out. Nothing seemed to help me understand why I had such strong emotional reactions and constant indecision, especially in romantic relationships. Then, I found Human Design while scrolling through Instagram.
Within minutes of exploring my chart, I felt like my life had just been explained to me by a complete stranger. With Human Design, you're given specific tools to thrive and function based on what gives you motivation and how you make decisions. If you aren't harnessing the right energy based on your chart, "We can get pulled off track because we're trying to be everything that we're not," Human Design guide and leadership coach Erin Claire Jones tells Allure.
Created by a man named Alan Krakower, who published a book in 1992 on the subject under the pseudonym Ra Uru Hu, Human Design is an incredibly specific way to learn more about your personality, emotions, and energy centers. More specifically, Human Design breaks down how you "are wired to make decisions, work within teams, parent, and partner," Jones says.
Much like astrological birth charts, Human Design is a system based on your exact time, date, and place of birth. However, this information doesn't just map where the planets were in the sky when you were born like a birth chart. Human Design also identifies your dominant chakras to create your personal body graph. It's basically an energetic blueprint, as Jones calls it. "Human Design is essentially a mix of Kabbalah, I'Ching, Myers-Briggs, astrology, biochemistry, genetics, and the chakra system all in one," she continues.
In 2016, Jenna Zoe, a Human Design expert, created an easy website (and more recently, an app) called MyHumanDesign to input your information in to formulate your personalized body graph. You can also calculate your chart on myBodyGraph.
Regardless of where you find your chart, it will look about the same and super complicated with a bunch of shapes, colors, and numbers. The diagram, which resembles the top half of a human body, incorporates shapes to resemble each chakra, such as crown, sacral, and root. Some are filled in, while others are empty to represent how — and where — you make decisions. (More on that soon.) Lines, aka channels or gates, depending on if they are colored in, connect each chakra together.
A series of planetary symbols with numbers also sandwiches the diagram on each side. The right side is your conscious personality that you can learn more about via your sun sign; the left is your unconscious personality, which is basically your birth chart from about three months before you were born. The numbers correspond to the ones that appear in the chakras, so you can gauge which planets rule each one.
Because Human Design is so complex and overwhelming at first glance, allow me to focus on the two most important aspects of someone's chart: energy type, which is how you exert energy and exchange it with the people around you, as well as authority, which explains how you make decisions.
The definition of energy types is the way you "optimize your unique energy in all areas of life, such as relationships, work, sleep, digestion, and creativity," explains Human Design reader Ilona Barnhart. "This is how you create ease and flow in your life."
Each of the five energy types — Manifestor, Generator, Manifesting Generator, Projector, and Reflector — comes with a specific description of when you're most productive, how they utilize opportunities (listed as strategy), a sign that that suggests they're living according to their human design (aka signature), and a particular feeling that comes up when they're not in tune with their energy type (labeled as not-self theme).
- Strategy: To inform
- Signature: Peace
- Not-Self Theme: Anger
"Manifestors start things, but they don't necessarily have to finish them," Jones says. Their energy comes in powerful bursts, and taking rest in between is important to them.
If you're a Manifestor, you likely hate being told what to do and need to feel a sense of autonomy. You can see where things are going before others do, which is why going into solitude in between energy bursts and giving yourself the space and time to enjoy what comes next are keys to making sure you're not running yourself into the ground with exhaustion.
You'll feel at peace with your creations if you're living by your design. Those who aren't in tune with theirs often see others starting projects they personally are passionate about and will feel an overwhelming amount of anger.
The strategy for Manifestors is to inform. In other words, "they need to clearly communicate their plans and needs with others to make sure they're in control," says Jones. Because you value independence and can start a hundred things at once, you need to tell people what you're going to do before you get it going. People won't feel suspicious about your motives or confused about your priorities when they know exactly what you have in the works.
- Strategy: To respond
- Signature: Satisfaction
- Not-Self Theme: Frustration
Generators need to follow their excitement. They have a very regular energy cycle that's meant to be used up in the day and worn out by bedtime. They can go, go, go, and can truly be the hustlers of the world.
"If you're a generator, you're likely the brightest when you're doing things that excite you," Jones says. "It's important for you to say no to things that don't." Unlike a manifestor, you shouldn't initiate anything, whether it's a passion project or relationship. Instead, respond to the opportunities presenting themselves to you.
You're living your human design if you're satisfied with what you're doing. However, if you go into classic Generator overwork or people-pleasing mode, you will get frustrated, which will lead to you feeling stuck in your day-to-day, like nothing is moving the way it's supposed to.
Use your gut to respond to opportunities and decide if they bring you joy — that's your true strategy for success. "Your intuition is your biggest gift, so trust it," says Zoe.
- Strategy: To respond, then inform
- Signature: Satisfaction
- Not-Self Theme: Frustration/Anger
With a blend of Manifestor and Generator energy, Manifesting Generators can multitask like no other, and they need to honor that every day is going to look different. Those with this energy type should keep in mind that their productivity and motivation can vary on a daily basis but can always be replenished with the help of quality sleep.
"Their strategy is to respond and understand whether their gut tells them to go forward," Barnhart says. "But they also have the Manifestor edge, which means they can inform, too — but only after they've responded to the opportunity presented to them." One always has to follow after the other, she adds.
When a Manifesting Generator is living their design, they'll feel content and fulfilled. If they're taking on projects or work they hate and not honoring that they love many things, though, they'll start feeling frustrated and angry.
- Strategy: To wait for the invitation
- Signature: Success
- Not-Self Theme: Bitterness
Similar to Manifestors, Projectors also have an ebb and flow of energy. The difference is Projectors are designed to work much fewer hours because they are what Zoe calls "non-energy beings." Much like the way extroverts are categorized with the Myers-Briggs test, they derive energy from other people and don't necessarily have much on their own.
Efficiency drives Projectors — not quantity. This energy type is designed to be recognized; therefore, they don't necessarily need to hustle. "People will come to them and invite them when they see their unique gifts, as long as they're putting themselves out there to be seen," Jones says as a Projector herself.
From there, Projectors will see great success. However, if they try to force things and see their efforts aren't working, they'll start feeling bitter and resentful, which is the tell-tale sign that they aren't living their design.
- Strategy: To wait for a lunar cycle
- Signature: Surprise
- Not-Self Theme: Disappointment
As the rarest energy type, Reflectors are also non-energy beings. They actually mirror the energy they see back to the people they're with. They are fluid in nature, though, so their energy can vary on a daily basis.
Reflectors should understand their individualism and hone it. However, their energy can be so unpredictable that they need to rebalance more than all the other energy types. According to Human Design, Reflectors should wait about 28 days — about the length of a moon cycle — before making major decisions. "That’s how much time it takes for them to really balance themselves," Zoe says. "Other timeframes are just too short for them."
If they're living their design, Reflectors should feel surprised and delighted by the distinctiveness of their life and "how different their days can seem," Zoe says. If they aren't, though, they will be disappointed they can't keep up with the world around them, forgetting they're not supposed to.
Your authority, to put it simply, is how you make decisions. On your body graph, it is represented by the energy centers that are filled in and defined the most, Jones notes. For instance, some people don't have a defined splenic center, so following their gut isn't the best advice for them. They may be more logical instead. "Everyone has intuition, but we all access it differently," Jones adds, which is where Human Design comes in to explain the best way for you to make decisions.
This authority type feels everything and needs to ride out their emotional waves before making a decision. "If they're happy, they will say yes, and if they're sad, they'll say no — and may regret that decision later on," Jones explains. They need to wait to be in a calm space, as long as it takes, and get off of that roller coaster of feelings before deciding what's best for themselves.
This kind of decision-making is linked to a feeling of excitement, a very visceral feeling in the body. "Sacral authorities basically need to light up inside," says Barnhart. If the decision isn't doing it for them, it's not the right one.
Gut feelings drive your decisions. You make choices in an instant. A voice in your head tells you what you should or shouldn't do. Your intuition may not make sense at times, but trust that it knows things that you don't. "These people can act on their feelings asap," Zoe says.
Your ego is what people mean when they say to follow their heart's desire. For those with their ego energy center filled in, this sentiment has never rung more true. "It may seem selfish to some, but if your heart is pulling you toward something, you need to do it," says Barnhart. "You'll recognize it by the feeling in your chest."
Unlike the previous four authorities, which result in going inward to select the best option for them, G Center Authority people need to talk things out and gain other perspectives before they can know their next steps to take. Also known as Self-Projected Authority, "These people don't necessarily have to take advice from others, but by talking things out, they'll reach clarity about what they truly desire," explains Jones.
Mental authority — also be called Environmental Authority or Sounding Board Authority — is another way of reaching conclusions by observing the outside world instead of through internal messages. Unlike the G Center Authority, though, those with Mental Authority also need to take note of their surroundings to make the right choices. "They have to talk things out and observe in environments that make them feel good," says Jones.
These people, specifically Reflectors or Outer Reflectors, don't have any of their chakras defined, so they, again, need to wait 28 days to determine the best option. They feel differently every day and can be influenced by the outside world very easily, so they need as much time as possible to figure out which energy is theirs and which is coming from other people.
Human Design In Practice
Similar to astrology, Human Design won't predict or offer definitive answers about your future. However, understanding your body graph can help you analyze certain aspects of your life, and potentially change your habits to become more productive, happier, and so on. For instance, I'm a Projector with Emotional Authority. Knowing this transformed my relationships and work life. I no longer find myself going out of my way to pitch stories. Instead, projects come to me, thanks to relationships I've built up with editors. Plus, if I'm well-rested, I notice I can write much faster than I would while I was running around all day, trying to keep up with the Manifestors and Generators of the world.
In terms of relationships, I've come to love the intensity of my emotions and how they give me full clarity in the decisions I need to make. I now trust that I need time to calm down to know what I want before I can define my needs. I communicate them so much better with my dates and potential partners and find inner peace when I do so. Honestly, I wish I'd come across Human Design much sooner. The inner confidence I've received from it has helped me adore my unique self and the way I function.
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